6 Trainers Share Their Top Workout Tips For People New to Fitness
Being new to fitness has its challenges — it's daunting, and progress doesn't happen overnight — but it can also have its advantages. It's a chance to learn about your strengths and all that your body can accomplish, whatever your goals may be. There's nowhere to go but up, too. POPSUGAR spoke to six certified personal trainers about getting into working out consistently for the first time, and they gave us top tips they recommend often to clients. Ahead, you'll read about avoiding burnout, finding the fun in exercise, making goals that aren't just about aesthetics, and more. Plus, you can find more guidance on our beginner fitness tips page.
Put Forth Effort but Believe in the Process
James Shapiro, NASM-certified personal trainer and owner of Primal Power Fitness, wants beginners to believe in the process. "Your change, whether it be body composition, strength-related, or performance-designed, takes time," he said. He added that everyone's bodies react differently to workouts because of genetics, but the one thing that'll ensure you'll see results is putting forth effort in all aspects of your journey. "This means during your workouts, in the kitchen, improving your stress management, sleep, and recovery that can stagnate progress," Shapiro said.
Hire a Trainer to Guide You
Ali Greenman, NASM- and ACE-certified personal trainer and founder of Final Straw Fitness, recommends hiring a certified personal trainer to help you get into your program. "There are so many options in gyms and online these days that they can fit virtually any budget," she said. "It will pay back tenfold when you are using your time and energy effectively, efficiently, and, most importantly, safely in the gym!"
Paul Searles, CSCS, from the New York Sports Science Lab, stressed the importance of hiring someone to coach you for at least four months. Here's more on what to consider when finding a trainer that's right for you and how to pick an online fitness plan.
If You're New to Running, Get a Gait Analysis Done
Oliver Lee, NASM-certified personal trainer, RRCA-certified run coach, and Peloton Tread instructor, said that running newbies should make sure they have the right shoes. "If you're looking at getting into running as a beginner, then go maybe get a gait analysis done and make sure that you pick up some appropriate running sneakers for your personal gait, which is basically how you run," he said. Many running stores can do this for you and help you determine whether you underpronate (your foot rolls outward) or overpronate (your foot rolls inward), or if you're a neutral pronator. "Then, that will make your running more enjoyable because you'll have the correct sneakers on your feet," he said. Once you find your gait, check out these expert-approved shoes for those who overpronate.
Pick Workouts That You Enjoy
Another one of Oliver's tips is making sure you pick a routine that you actually like. "Be excited, have fun, and enjoy your workouts and your journey. If you don't enjoy it and it feels like a chore, you will not want to do it," he said. Whatever it is, Oliver noted that if you find something that you enjoy, you're more likely to stick to it in the long term. That routine will be sustainable — plus, results happen when you're consistent. "Don't go run three miles because someone told you to go run three miles," he added. "If you hate running three miles, but you love taking a dance class, go do your dance class because you're going to feel way better at the end of it. And the other way around: if you love running and someone tells you to go do yoga, go do your running if that's what makes you feel good."
Don't Burn Yourself Out
Charlee Atkins, CSCS, founder of Le Sweat, told POPSUGAR that beginners need to be careful that they don't burn themselves out. Same goes for anyone returning to training after time away. "My tip is practice 'two-three-two' for the first three weeks of getting back into working out," she said. "Meaning, commit to two workout days in week one, three workout days in week two, and then back to two workout days in week three."
The reason behind this, she said, is that when we jump into a fitness routine, we tend to "lean all the way in, which leads to burnout really quick. By easing into a workout practice, it becomes easier to incorporate fitness into a daily routine." She added, "By slowly increasing the workout load, we train our bodies what they're capable of and we ease into accepting multiple workouts a week over time. Moderation is key for a beginner!" Also, setting goals for exercising more than your body is capable of and not being able to reach those goals is discouraging. This way, you won't get as discouraged and you'll stay motivated.
Make Performance-Based Goals as Opposed to Aesthetic Ones
Katie Crewe, CSCS, doesn't recommend making goals based purely on aesthetics. Instead of focusing on how your body will look, focus on how your body will feel and how it can perform. "I have no problem with people who want to make changes aesthetically to their bodies," she said. But physical changes can come slowly, especially for some people, she explained, while others "are very genetically blessed" and might see changes more rapidly.
Plus, there are going to be times in your life when priorities shift and you can't be as consistent with your schedule. "If you start to feel really badly about yourself because you see small physical changes, it's very discouraging," she told us. However, performance-based goals are exciting and they'll even help you get to your aesthetic goals as well along the way, she said. "If you have goals of gaining muscle size and then you have performance-based goals of increasing the weights that you're using and pushing hard on an exercise, you're going to see [physical] changes by reaching those performance-based goals."
It's not that you won't see aesthetic changes at all, Crewe said, it's just "the idea that you're sort of seeing your body in a different way, appreciating it in a different way, and you're not being so fixated on just physicality. And I find that that makes people stick with stuff a lot longer, when they start to feel good about themselves and what they're able to do and what they can accomplish."
Everyone Was a Beginner Once
Peloton Tread instructor and RRCA-certified run coach Becs Gentry, whom we've interviewed in the past as well, wants beginners to remember that they are not alone. "We've all been there. . . . I mean, I still think of myself as a beginner all the time in different elements of running," Becs admitted. She's a marathoner, but if she switched gears to the 100-meter sprint, she'd be in "beginner zone."
"We've just got to trust ourselves," she said, adding that you're in control of where you're going and what your fitness journey looks like. You don't have to prove anything to anyone but yourself.